A PILOT scheme aiming to inspire Tameside youngsters to get into books is already improving reading skills.
The ‘Tameside Reading Challenge’ Pilot began last October, with Tameside Council providing volunteers to read with pupils at six primary schools across the borough.
Informal data has already shown that one pupil has improved his reading ability by two years in just ten weeks.
Further feedback is currently being collected from the schools, parents and pupils, with the results to be shared as soon as available.
But parents and volunteers have already spoken about seeing improvements.
One parent said: “I’d stopped trying to read at home with my daughter as she wasn’t interested and it just created arguments, but now she is coming home asking to read together.”
Another said: “My son wasn’t interested in reading at all, despite everything I did to try and encourage him, but this year for the first time he’s asked for books on his Christmas list!”
One of the volunteers said: “Thank you for the opportunity. I noticed a change from the first week to last two. The books they read and the encouragement make a big difference.”
Another added: “The difference achieved from making a little bit of effort has been brilliant to see, just taking library books that matched their interest was met with such enthusiasm – I really feel like I’ve had an impact on their interest in reading which makes me really proud.”
Each school involved received two or three volunteers who spent an hour a week over the autumn term working with two pupils on a one-to-one basis. The aim is to encourage reading for pleasure and increase reading ability and is part of Tameside Council’s priority to support positive lifelong outcomes.
The volunteers were placed with pupils from Early Years right through to Year 6 at Waterloo, Ashton; Pinfold, Hattersley; Greenfield, Hyde; Corrie, Denton; and Wild Bank and Gorse Hall in Stalybridge.
The programme was developed and co-ordinated by the council’s Employment and Skills team in partnership with School Improvement, Libraries and Workforce Development.
In December, pupils and parents involved in the Reading Challenge were invited to a Christmas party, hosted and sponsored by the Village Hotel in Hyde, to celebrate their hard work and success. They enjoyed a meal, entertainment and a visit from Father Christmas. Some of the volunteers who read with the children were also in attendance to celebrate the pupil’s achievements.
Following the success of the pilot, the programme will be extended to run again during the Spring Term, with an additional five more schools to be supported.
Councillor Leanne Feeley, Executive Member for Lifelong Learning, said: “Reading with children has a powerful impact. Research shows that reading books with a child has a lasting effect on language, vocabulary and literacy skills and is hugely beneficial to their development and later academic achievements.
“That makes this a vitally important programme and its’ great to hear that one pupil has improved his reading ability by two years, which is an incredible achievement in just ten weeks. I look forward to this scheme expanding and further results.”